Policy Focus


For all of the conversation around education, student proficiency and academic outcomes can often take a back seat. Worse, the conversation can be shrouded in myths and bad data. WILL has authored the Apples to Apples report to provide true comparisons about academic achievement across school sectors. And WILL continues to make the case for policies that will place academic outcomes and student proficiency as a top priority.


The City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) have spent years trying to keep vacant and underutilized school buildings from being sold to Milwaukee’s charter schools or private schools. WILL has been involved in documenting the vacant and underutilized schools in Milwaukee, the experience schools have had with the City, and the costs that have accrued as a result of the City’s refusal to sell.


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the newest federal law on K-12 education, replacing No Child Left Behind. ESSA gives states more power – in exchange for federal funds – to set education policy. To comply with ESSA, Wisconsin must implement its state plan, which includes creating a new accountability system and federal report card. WILL provided legal analysis and input on Wisconsin’s state plan.


For the better part of the last decade, no piece of legislation has loomed larger in public policy debates in Wisconsin than Act 10, the collective bargaining reform law passed in 2011. The controversial budget repair bill, introduced by Governor Scott Walker in the first weeks of his first term, represented a fundamental break with the past and a new era for state and local governments in the Badger State.


During the Obama administration, the federal Department of Education began an unprecedented intervention into America’s classrooms. Federal bureaucrats issued guidance to, and threatened investigation of, state and local school officials to force changes in schools suspension policies in order to combat racial discrimination. Since 2017, WILL has examined the impact of these policy changes on Wisconsin schools.